I stepped out of my car day before yesterday into the hot blast of another early morning, humid, Texas day.
Folks were already making their way to our front door and to the Resource Center just inside.
As I walked across the street toward the building, I greeted an older gentleman and two elderly women who were with him. At the side of one of the women was a beautiful little girl. I expect she was about 10-years-old.
I welcomed them all, commented on the heat wave that is always Dallas this time of year and then, I turned to the little girl.
"I bet you're enjoying the summer," I said to her.
She smiled back at me, as her grandmother declared proudly, "This is my daughter's oldest girl."
"Are you glad school's not starting yet?" I asked.
"Oh, no. I can't wait to get back to school," she replied.
"Really!" I exclaimed with some surprise, remembering my own summers past and the thought of going back to school!
"You like school, do you?" I went on.
"Yes! I love math," she beamed.
"Well, that is great," I encouraged, now ashamed of my faulty assumptions based on my own attitude at 10, er, and 18, I'm afraid!
"And, I love science, too!" she volunteered.
"Stick with that math and science," I counseled as they walked on. "You stay with that and things will go well for you."
As I made my way up the steps to my office, I wondered if things would go well for her.
So much can happen between 10 and 22, you know?
When your steps are complicated, compounded and distracted by the day-to-day noise, clutter and obstacles brought on by poverty, racism and disadvantage, things often don't go so well.
My new little friend reminded me why we are here and why it is that we do what we try to do.
She also sobered me up early for my day.
If it is up to her alone, I know she will be more than just fine. She will achieve beyond belief. I pray that she does.
Trouble is life is never just up to us, whether we speak of privilege and advantage or oppression and disadvantage.
I will remember her for a long time, I know.
She and her family are the keys to our universe here.
And then there is our commitment to strengthening the community. For this one little girl to be successful, lots of other people around her need to be equipped for their own success and ready to do the important work of supporting, preparing and launching her into the rest of her life.
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Rising from Ashes
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.